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I am currently studying for my engineering diploma and I will start my last year in September. The specialization I chose is embedded systems which I enjoy a lot, however I feel this is not what I want to work on (at least not right after my diploma).

Let me give you some context : when I needed to chose what I would study, I wanted to either do something related to art or engineering. My parents strongly encouraged me to pick the latter because it would keep many doors opened compared to art studies.

Now that I am close to finding an end-of-course internship, I realize I really want to work for the gaming industry (a bit cliché) and especially in the artistic sections (3D modelling, character design, etc). The problem is, I only have self taught experience in the artistic domain while other people applying for this type of position have been studying arts.

I tried to get the help of my school (teaching staff), my family and a few of my acquaintances but none of them could provide me with satisfying directions. In fact, I am often regarded as an immature person with a whim.

My question can be split in multiple parts :

  • Is it realistic to look for jobs (internships) not in my field of study ?
  • If not, is it a good idea to start art studies after my engineering diploma (knowing they cost quite a bit and take 1 to 3 years) ?
  • Do self taught skills count when applying for a job ?

What would a recruiter value more :

  • Self taught skills
  • An actual diploma for the same kind of skills

Side notes :

  • Should any additional info be required, I'd be glad to provide it
  • Please excuse the mistakes, English is not my mother tongue
  • I would suggest you focus solely on the last question here. The first 2 questions (especially the 2nd one) are highly subjective and you probably wouldn't get an answer that draws from expertise as much as one just saying yes, no or maybe, you may as well try, with a weak justification. – Dukeling Jul 13 '17 at 11:32
  • Good luck with the gaming industry. I suppose if you like lots of unpaid overtime, being treated like nothing, getting low pay, and finding a real job and getting a life when you are burnt out. – gnasher729 Jul 13 '17 at 11:37
  • @Dukeling Actually, the thing I want to know is wether it is better to rely on my self taught skills or to start "real" studies. What would a recruiter value more ? – z3r0 Jul 13 '17 at 11:40
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    Consider getting your foot in the door with a development job and then transitioning once you have made internal contacts. They may tell you if you need some specific training. You may have to accept a pay cut to change, so plan for that as well. BTW, your parents are wrong, there are lots of arts jobs and the arts is a viable career choice. – HLGEM Jul 13 '17 at 15:06
  • @HLGEM I was effectively thinking of finding a dev job first and then moving to what I like doing but I wasn't sure if this was a viable choice. – z3r0 Jul 17 '17 at 7:16
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For most jobs that have a significant artistic component to them, you will need a Portfolio, i.e. examples of your artistic work.

Hiring manager don't particularly care if that portfolio comes from school work, previous professional life or from your free time. What matters is if the style and the quality of the work is what they are looking for, that it is indeed yours, and that you can demonstrate that you can produce this type and quality of work efficiently and consistently. A diploma doesn't say much about any of these, so it's not super relevant unless it comes from a very famous school for this type of things.

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What would a recruiter value more :

•Self taught skills?

•An actual diploma for the same kind of skills?

To answer your question, with respect to artistic skills, no one really cares how you acquired those skills. They just care that you have them and are able to do the work. Engineering skills are another matter, without a degree, you probably won't get too far looking for engineering work.

FWIW, I did almost the opposite thing. I went to art school, graduated, worked for several years then went back to school for my engineering degree.

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In general, a diploma even a field totally unrelated to you work is always a bit of a plus. It shows that you learned a scientific approach and are capable. There are also some company's that especially value the synergies that other experience can bring to you current field of work.

That said, studying something and then immediately start to work in some other field might seem a little bit uncertain and if I where the hiring manager I would doubt that you´ll really stay long in your new field.

Last you have to decide if money and job security are are more important to you than satisfaction with you work.

If you want to get into gaming/art no matter if you study it or not, the most important thing would be to start building a portfolio that shows your skills and style. If you impress someone with your designs, it is 80% of getting a job.

To your edited question: If that is the only difference then Diploma goes over self-taught. But for the field you want to work in, I´d still say your portfolio would be your most important feature!

  • I am indeed afraid me looking for a job in another field will not appeal to recruiter. They might think "this guy doesn't know what he wants". However, I'm not in contact with anyone who can enlighten me on how recruiters think or work. – z3r0 Jul 13 '17 at 11:56
  • @z3r0: Just try it, if you are constantly rejected you know more. What do you have to loose. The goal is generally to show enthusiasm and commitment towards the job you are applying for. If not through your career, you have to convince them trough the application letter and the interview or via examples results of your self-teaching projects. – Daniel Jul 13 '17 at 12:38
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This answer is going to be pretty negative in regards to recruiters - so I apologise somewhat if whoever reads is this is one.

What would a recruiter value more :

  • Self taught skills
  • An actual diploma for the same kind of skills

When you say recruiter I presume you mean a third-party recruiter. The only thing they value is placing people with companies. They're target driven, so they're not going to ignore you just because your degree isn't directly related to your chosen field of work. You really don't need to give them much consideration in this process.

What you should be thinking about is what makes you appealing to potential employers.


The advantage of having a degree related to the job you're trying to get is that it easily proves to your employer that you possess a certain level of knowledge/skill.

If you don't have that advantage then you need to provide that proof in another way. It sounds like you've got roughly 12 months until you're looking at coming into the job market. I'd spend that time (when you're not working on your degree, obviously) on creating a portfolio that you can send to employers, along with your CV, to show them what you can do. If you need to start looking for your internship sooner than that - then I'd try to get something together as soon as you can.

You'll still have your degree which shows a base level of intelligence, and so will still count towards getting you in for an interview. Being self-taught you also show that you have significant amount of initiative - something employers should value highly.

It certainly won't be as easy trying to get a job outside of the area you've studied in - but nothing's impossible with the right amount of application.

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Do self taught skills count when applying for a job

Absolutely.

If you have personal projects you can show off / include on your resume, this could certainly help get you to the interview process.

The skills themselves won't help much with getting you an interview, but they will certainly improve your chances of getting through the interview process.

What would be even better is working together with others (if necessary) and actually releasing a product to the public (for profit or for free) or making significant contributions to an open-source project.

It's certainly possible to have a successful career without a relevant degree (unless it's something like law or medicine, where it's presumably strictly required).

Is it realistic to look for jobs (internships) not in my field of study?

Possibly. There isn't much harm in just sending out applications and seeing if anything comes of them.


The question of "which is valued more" would come down to the individual recruiter or company and how effective you are in teaching yourself and building up an awesome resume.

Some may look for a degree with total tunnel-vision, but if we're talking about doing nothing but studying for how-many-ever years versus spending that time doing amazing relevant things instead, anyone worth their salt would opt for the latter. A degree and amazing things would be even better.

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